Iqlaa helps small-business owners become stronger entrepreneurs

A person leading a demonstration.
AbdulRahim Al Harsh showcasing his new business model for running the clothes recycling factory during a field visit by the USAID and Iqlaa program to his business in Aqaba.
July 01, 2024

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For seven years, Raja’ Al Khatatbeh has been meticulously recording her sales amounts from her cake and sweets business in Aqaba. Despite keeping these records, the only financial information she knew was that her business revenues covered 90% of her household expenses. The owner of ‘Raja’s Cake and More’ struggled to analyze her business finances to make more informed decisions for her business.

Recognizing that many home-based, micro, and small businesses, like Raja’s, need to develop their entrepreneurial and financial management skills, USAID Informal Livelihoods Advancement Activity (Iqlaa) launched the Integrated, Intensive, Capacity-building Program (IICP) to address these challenges.

Eager to understand the profit she earns per piece of cake, Raja attended the IICP held in her hometown. The training provided her with crucial financial knowledge, taught her how to read financial statements, and enabled her to accurately analyze her business expenses, revenues and resulting profits. “This is what I was looking for to overcome my business challenges,” says Raja’.



I was initially fearful of transitioning my project from a home-based to a rented workspace and managing a team. After a year and a half of contemplation, the training thankfully helped me take the leap and rent the space I needed to grow my business.

Raja’ Al Khatatbeh, small business owner
A person smiling for the camera.

Developing her interpersonal skills were not part of her expectations when she first joined the training. Being naturally shy, Raja’ never thought the way she approaches clients would be essential to grow her business. In preparation for the Eid Holiday, she confidently applied what she learned at the training and reached out to a community-based organization to sell her Maamoul sweets; the result was an increase in her production from 100 to more than 200 kilos after securing this new client!

Reflecting on Iqlaa’s integrated learning approach, Raja remarks, “The training focused on creating opportunities from challenges, transforming shyness into confidence, building effective pitching skills, and shifting our mindset from money-spending to understanding money. With my developed entrepreneurial competencies and financial knowledge, I believe I am now ready to transition my business from being home-based to having my own workspace and shop with a dedicated team.”

Like Raja’, entrepreneurial behavioral development was a key to solve some challenges faced by AbdulRahim Al Harsh, owner of ‘The Aqaba Gate for Clothes Waste Recycling’. At first, he did not realize that addressing his struggle to cover the registration fees for a factory could be resolved. By enhancing his entrepreneurial competencies in networking, persuasion, and perseverance through Iqlaa’s IICP training, he successfully persuaded the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority to offer him a 50% discount on all registration fees for his business.

The practical nature of the training allowed me to experiment with different business models and find one that aligns with my business interests. It also helped me develop a clear plan for managing my operating costs, expanding my market reach, and thus exporting my first cargo.

AbdulRahim Al Harsh, small business owner

He described his experience saying, “I now realize that behavioral competencies and financial skills are like our eyes; they work better together in giving a full view. Using what I learnt at the training, I implemented a new business model by which I collect clothes scraps, recycle them, and export the output material to furniture factories. Through the initial generated income, I managed to install the needed recycling machines for my small operation.”

The 9-day integrated intensive capacity training by Iqlaa worked on enhancing the entrepreneurial, managerial, and financial capabilities of 55 micro and small business owners in Amman and Aqaba in Jordan. The training provided the participants with essential tools to help them make better-informed decisions, access diversified market opportunities, and scale up their businesses. It also focused extensively on strengthening core behavioral competencies that shape the mindset of an entrepreneur, which are essential to grow and transform their businesses.

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